Usage of 'but' at the end of the sentence

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Adam Cruge, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    One of the uses of 'but' is its occurrence as a qualifying adverb at the end of the sentence...For example:
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    2.'She's lovely'.'Isn't she but', said Jimmy.
    3.'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said.

    I want some explanation about the use of 'but' in this way and the meaning of 'but' in these case...
     
  2. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    Where did you see this? They are incorrect as far as I know..
     
  3. lisa687 New Member

    English-USA
    I would never use "but" at the end of a formal sentece. It's a coordinatung conjunction, so it's always meant to connect two thoughts.
     
  4. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    From the book of Modern English Usage by Fowler.
     
  5. lisa687 New Member

    English-USA
    I'm curious what the publication year of that book is.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a native English speaker who would ever say any of those three sentences or use "but" in that way. It's just not common usage.

    If I saw that in any of the documents I was editing for work, I would remove it and recast the sentence.
     
  6. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    But the book says it is somewhat natural in Australian English, Irish English and in some parts of South Africa, or may be in other part of the English speaking nations...
     
  7. lisa687 New Member

    English-USA
    Oh, I'm sorry. I should have clarified my post by saying that you'd be hard-pressed to find a native American English speaking-person say this. I can't speak for Austrailian or Irish English. Their usage could certainly be different.
     
  8. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    I will hold off then, as I am neither from Australia, Ireland, nor South Africa..
    However, I have heard a lot of English from the above places, but never "but" at the end of a sentence.
     
  9. xopher.tm Member

    English, US
    Informally (and usually spoken) one might find "but" tacked on at the end of a sentence implying that there is more being unsaid - and that it is rather opposite of what is already said. Sort of a verbal elipsis.

    "That was a lovely cat, but .... (I am horribly allergic and shall now go blow my nose for the next hour.)"
     
  10. BellaDancer

    BellaDancer Senior Member

    In the first sentence, even in the New World, the "but" is a qualification -- the can was lovely, but had some unlovely characteristic(s) that the speaker doesn't want to enumerate. Or it's a qualification about the speaker's feelings.

    That was a lovely cat, but she scratched up all the furniture.
    That was a lovely cat, but I'm glad she's gone.

    In your second example, in American, the "but" is for emphasis:

    - She's lovely!
    - Isn't she but! = Isn't she just! = Isn't she really lovely!
     
  11. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    But the usage of 'but' in this case is clearly not like that...
     
  12. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    Yes, in that case it is used as a coordinating conjunction, and it's coordinating between the first clause and a clause that is intentionally left out. I understand that usage completely, but the one in the original post seems off.
     
  13. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    I got your point, but how is this in the following sentence:

    'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said.
     
  14. Driven

    Driven Senior Member

    USA/English
    In American English, you can use the word "though" in all of your example sentences and it would sound so much better. Maybe in other English speaking countries they use the word "but" to mean "though" ??? I agree with Aidanriley that you would rarely if ever hear an American say "but" at the end of a sentence unless it was some teenager slang or something like that.
     
  15. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    I know teenager slang, it's not :)
    I take this: 'I am not staying but' to mean
    "...; however, I am unable to stay", otherwise it sounds rude to me. Thoughts?
     
  16. Driven

    Driven Senior Member

    USA/English
    I am way past teenager age so I had no idea. (Although, I have teenage daughters and they have never used that grammar either.) I think "I am not staying but" means, "I'm not staying though". Since I've never heard "but" at the end of sentences, it is only a guess.
     
  17. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    I don't think there'll be a conclusion, since we can't really find one that fits all three. My conclusion is that you shouldn't use that form :)
     
  18. BellaDancer

    BellaDancer Senior Member

    That's what it sounds like to me too, but ..... ;)
     
  19. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    The second two make sense as "though", but the first one?
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    That was a lovely cat, though. Though what?
     
  20. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    That's what I am pointing out, this can not be replaced by 'though'...
     
  21. BellaDancer

    BellaDancer Senior Member

    In the first example, with the cat, the meaning is a bit different. The but indicates that there is a qualification or condition that is left unspoken, as in "that was a lovely cat, but she scratched my furniture."
     
  22. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    Looks like the entire population of the British Isles is having a day off from the forum today ... except me;)
    Adam: I do hear but used in this way from time to time in the UK. I may even use it myself occasionally ... yes, I think I do.
    Which edition of Fowler did you see this in?
    I wouldn't call it a common usage by any means, but it happens.
     
  23. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    My salvation. So, what does it mean?
     
  24. Adam Cruge Banned

    India & Bengali
    It is revised third edition by Burchfield...
     
  25. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    Well, it means pretty much what Adam wrote in his first post:
    As someone said before, the buts in (1) and (2) are slightly different in that they emphasize what goes before rather than (erm....) 'contradicting' it. As someone also said the but in (3) is pretty much equivalent to though.

    EDIT: Ooh! here's an article about it (which I'm too lazy to read), but here's a quote from it:
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  26. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    If it is recorded speech, then take it as described in previous posts. If it is not recorded speech, then in it wrong, incorrect, unidiomatic, etc. in American English, even if the writer is trying to explain cricket test matches. Other Englishes may have other views on this.
     
  27. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    The conclusion is that it exists ... but not in the USA.
     
  28. BellaDancer

    BellaDancer Senior Member

    Not quite! You will find this usage in the US:

    "Her boyfriend is cute, but ....."

    (....... he's married.)

    "I'd really like to come, but ....."

    (I'm very tired.)
     
  29. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Elsewhere
    English English
    Yes but that's a different kettle of fish, Bella.
    Her boyfriend is cute but. = Wow! her boyfriend is cute!
     
  30. BellaDancer

    BellaDancer Senior Member

    If you want to talk about fish, we'll have to start a new thread! ;)
     
  31. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    Kettle of fish!? Oh gosh, hahaha. I need a book of British idioms, I can't stop laughing. (That's a compliment, not a criticism)

    Her boyfriend is cute but.
    If someone said that here, I'd think they meant he has a cute butt.
     
  32. Moi_elise Member

    Alicante
    Spanish and Catalan. Spain

    I just came across this usage of "but" in an American novel. It's a teenager from the East Coast who uses it. Looking for an explanation got me here, and I thought I should add to the thread that it does exist in the USA too. No idea as to how commonly, though:

    I don't know if it is for emphasis or it should be "though", though.
     
  33. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    I've just come across this thread and am surprised nobody pointed out that this usage is actually quite common in informal speech in Glasgow. You simply put the "but" at the end of the sentence instead of the beginning - not unlike the way "though" is used in other parts of the UK.

    So: "I'd like to go, but I can't afford it." becomes "I'd like to go. I can't afford it, but."

    And if it's okay with "though", why not with "but"?
     
  34. carohofmockel New Member

    German
    Hi,
    I am currently writing a thesis on 'but' as a final discourse particle, which I came across during my stay as an assistent teacher of German in Glasgow. I found this discussion while doing research, and I would love to use some of the examples given in this thread for my paper. Would it be ok for you if I quoted some of them?
    Thank you :)
    Carolin
     
  35. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I recall hearing this type of construction in some old television series set in the North of England (either Tyneside or Yorkshire, as I recall). I don't hear it round here (Derby) and I've certainly never heard it anywhere to the south of here.
     
  36. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Carolin - welcome to the forums!

    I think that in an academic paper you might be better off using examples from printed sources.... The article which ewie linked to in post 25 would be a useful source. You might also find some good examples searching in google books on "it isn't, but" or "(s)he isn't, but": I'll see if I can find some:).
     
  37. carohofmockel New Member

    German
     
  38. I thought this was going to be a short thread. It turned out to be anything but.
     
  39. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    If it's here, you can quote it -- it was kind of you to ask. ;)
     
  40. snarryislife

    snarryislife New Member

    United States of America
    English-United States-Middle Georgia
    Brilliant.

    Hello Carolin! As a 17 year-old American teenager living in the United states, we find nothing incorrect about using but to end our sentences.
    But can be used to portray numerous emotions in our conversations, it's not really the word it's self, but what 'but' stands for in those situations.
     
  41. dukaine Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    English - American
    "But" is often used at the end of a sentence to say that something or someone is the antithesis of something else.

    Speaker #1: That girl is so mean!!
    Speaker #2: No, she's everything but! (she's completely opposite of mean)

    Speaker #1: That guy seems nice.
    Speaker #2: Are you kidding? He's anything but. (He's completely opposite of nice)

    In both cases, the adjective has been omitted, but it is understood.
     
  42. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes - but that is not the usage of "but" at issue in this thread - which is "but" at the end of a sentence meaning "though", "just" or "really":).
     
  43. dukaine Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    English - American
    Oops. My bad.
     
  44. carohofmockel New Member

    German
    thanks, that's great ;)
     

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